Sultry Italian Soiree Dining Roberto Cavalli Style
By Robin Jay
Take one step into 150 Ocean Drive on Miami Beach and you’ll feel you’ve traveled transatlantic into the home and kitchen of Italian couturier Roberto Cavalli. From the jaguar and zebra-print chairs, the fanciful floral tablecloths, and the eclectically vibrant dinnerware – to the sophisticated selection of Cavalli vineyard wines and artsy bottles of Cavalli herb-and-fruit-infused vodkas (who knew?!) lining the bar, there is no doubt this venue has the Midas touch of an iconic luxury brand guru.
Cavalli Miami Restaurant & Lounge was collaboratively designed by Cavalli and Italian-based architect, Italo Rota. The dual-floor restaurant and lounge impeccably reflects Casa Cavalli’s style of extravagance and innovation. The dining room is designed to mimic Cavalli’s Tuscan villa. Even the marble floors are signed with the fashion mogul’s name.
With such fashionable fanfare, it would be no easy task for a food menu to live up to such high expectations. But then again, this restaurant has the seal of approval from Cavalli himself. I asked Executive Chef Stefano Mazzi how he went about designing a palette of dishes that would please the diverse, highly discerning international clientele that is South Beach.
“I simply set out to share my passion for Tuscan cooking – nothing overcomplicated or pretentious – just the best and freshest Italian ingredients and spices for traditional cuisine with a trace of ‘new-style’, ” said Chef Mazzi.
He’s modest indeed. The dishes Chef Mazzi selected and presented were nothing short of stellar. We started with Tuscan Chianina beef tartare with quail egg, light mustard and truffle salt. It melted in our mouths. It was a brilliant combination of flavors and textures. The dish was superbly paired with a glass of Redini wine from Tenuta degli Dei, the Cavalli family vineyard in the Chianti region of Italy, which is overseen by the designer’s son, Tommaso Cavalli. Next came a succulent Lamb Ossobuco, cooked three hours and impeccably tender, followed by the homemade Lobster Gnocchi – featuring Roberto Cavalli’s own recipe and a sauce with the perfect hint of heat. It came paired with a signature Cavalli cocktail “Tre Excellenze” – the epitome of dazzling refreshment – made with Cavalli Vodka, fresh gingerroot, fresh lime, sage and chili pepper.
But then, the piece de resistance. Chef Mazzi arrived tableside with a dish of black truffle risotto in one hand and – oh yes! – a beautiful large whole black summer Italian truffle in the other. “Shall I shave the truffle for you ma’am?” he asked.
Pinch me! I believe I may have momentarily gone to heaven and back. Incredibly, Chef Mazzi shaved the gorgeous black truffle until I said ‘when.’ I savored every bite and then reached into my purse to check off a line on my bucket list.
Hats off to Chef Mazzi, Roberto Cavalli and the faultless team of servers who made our dining experience most memorable: servers Ranko Slavusevic and Michael Huet, and mixologist Nikola Atkov.